A Thursday Night @ Summer Ends Festival 

The Second Annual Summer Ends Festival commenced Thursday, welcoming three talents back to the Valley of the Sun.

Speaking of the sun…  the night began with it fading in the distance as the crowd rose to their feet to welcome the first act of the night; Cold War Kids. This was the second time I attended one of their shows this year (the first was at the Marquee in February) and I was impressed this time with their sound in an outdoor venue. The close quarters of the Marquee didn’t help Cold War Kids’ sound when I first saw them. Playing out in Tempe Beach Park suited them well. They stayed true to their studio sound. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of studio sounds because it can make the band sound fake – like they aren’t really making the music so much as mixing it on a soundboard – but Cold War Kids’ studio sound is perfect for their voices, their instruments, their music as an entity. The band played songs off their most recent album “Hold My Home,” including hits like “All This Could Be Yours,” and “First.” During the latter, the crowd was energized and sang along with every word. It was a great first set for the festival.

Once the sun had nearly disappeared on the horizon, Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers, took to the stage and began his set with “Human,” by The Killers, and then his most recently popular solo song “Can’t Deny My Love.” After the chill sound of Cold War Kids, the crowd was amped up and ready to rock out with Brandon Flowers. He gave such an amazing and rousing concert that one fan passed out halfway through “Magdalena.” I never actually found out what happened to the fan, but it was more than likely heat exhaustion. Probably. Right? It was hot. Nevertheless, Brandon Flowers had the band stop their performance to check up on the afflicted. It was a humanizing moment which made me love his performance even more. Before continuing, he reminded everyone, “Don’t pass out. Stay awake.” To close out his set, Brandon Flowers and company performed famed The Killers song, “Mr. Brightside,” much to the sea of fans’ delight. It was a powerful performance that will be hard to forget.

As far as flow between performers goes, the slight rasp in Brandon Flowers’ voice was the perfect contrast to the smooth honey dripping sound of Hozier’s.

Casually dressed in a button-down shirt and jeans, with hair tied up in a bun, Hozier thanked the crowd for standing out in the desert waiting for him and remarked that by the end, the stage crew would need to “mop him off the stage and into a bucket.” Beginning with the slow paced and thoughtful “Like Real People Do,” off his self-titled album, Hozier set up a peaceful and comfortable atmosphere in which to enjoy his music.  The crowd was easily the most calm and subdued of any I’ve ever been a part of. It was nice because that’s the mood Hozier’s music puts people in. It’s calm and thoughtful, not angry and excitable. Hozier played almost every song on his self-titled album along with a few covers including “Blackbird” by The Beatles, and a surprising cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” A personally special moment was when a fan started crying upon hearing the first chords of “Cherry Wine.” It’s not one of Hozier’s popular tunes, so the fact that this fan immediately recognized it and had such a reaction to it reminded me once again why I love music and going to concerts so much. Music connects people in a way nothing else can. It can have such an influence in our lives on our emotions, memories and relationships. It’s amazing to me.

Hozier closed with “Take Me to Church,” easily his most popular song which has people feeling all kinds of emotions. At the end he bowed with the band and just like that; it was all over.

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